President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has told reporters Brexit “has to happen now” and there will be no deadline extension – MPs must accept Boris Johnson’s new deal or leave without one.
Juncker, who is set to be replaced as head of the European Union’s powerful unelected executive — which is also the only EU body capable of initiating EU-level legislation — by scandal-hit former German defence minister and EU army advocate Ursula von der Leyen shortly after the latest Brexit deadline, suggested there could be no further prolongation of the Brexit process, despite Remain MPs having passed a law ordering Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask the EU for yet another delay unless Parliament agrees to a deal or a clean no-break break.
As Juncker outlined his position that “there will be no other prolongation” with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in tow, an excited British broadcast journalist began to ask if he was therefore “rul[ing] out an extension”.
This prompted the 64-year-old to cut him off with an angry shout of “I’m speaking!” which elicited a grovelling apology of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” to the unelected Luxembourger — a show of abject deference which would never be extended to a British politician who attempted to scold a journalist into silence.
The Commission chief did in the end respond to the hapless would-be interviewer on the question of whether he was ruling out an extension, however, confirming: “That’s what I was saying.”
NEW: We just doorstepped Juncker and he told us explicitly that he is ruling out extension. He said we have a deal so we don’t need one
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 17, 2019
Juncker tells me there ‘must be no prolongation- it has to happen now’ – has Johnson persuaded EU to say it’s genuinely this deal or no deal – no delay?
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 17, 2019
— #StandUp4Brexit (@StandUp4Brexit) October 17, 2019
Why President Juncker appears to be attempting to bounce the Remain majority in the House of Commons into backing Borish Johnson’s new deal with Brussels — which appears to be all but indistinguishable from the “surrender treaty” negotiated by Theresa May — is unclear, especially considering MPs now seem emboldened to block no-deal deal Brexit or the calling of an election which might alter the parliamentary arithmetic in the Brexiteers’ favour in perpetuity.
It is possible that he has reason to believe that even if Boris Johnson does comply with the aforementioned legislation requiring him to ask for another delay — which he has somewhat confusingly vowed he will not do, while also insisting his government will follow the law — it may not be agreed by the European Council, comprised of executive states and government from the EU’s 28 member-states (minus the United Kingdom, in the context of the Brexit negotiations).
It should be noted that the decision to accept or reject another extension of the Brexit deadline is in the Council’s gift, and not the Commission’s — although it seems unlikely he Juncker would rule it out in the presence of chief negotiator Barnier if he did not have the Council’s tacit backing.
🇺 Where there is a will, there is a #deal – we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions. I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal. pic.twitter.com/7AfKyCZ6k9
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) October 17, 2019
So far not a fan of these little ‘commitments’ in the Political Declaration – albeit non-binding – but staying in step with EU tax schedules and handing them our fishing waters ain’t in any version of Brexit I voted for pic.twitter.com/a5QMpyVRL6
— Alexandra Phillips MEP (@BrexitAlex) October 17, 2019
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